I'm three Little Baby's ice creams in; don't judge. Hand to the ice cream gods, this is research.

Before we get too far along, let me just say that the Chipotle Chocolate is transcendent.

But back to business.

The other day, I came across a tweet where someone, who had presumably treated themselves to ice cream at the Frankford Avenue Little Baby's, had paid it forward by buying a scoop for someone she thought could use a pick-me-up. Nice.

Included was a picture of the shop's Pay-It-Forward board, which lists the giver's name and someone they want to treat so that person (or someone that fits their description) can claim it at a later date. This I had to see.

I've gone on record, as recently as a week ago, that ice cream is my catchall go-to. Good days, bad days, I-can't-believe-Trump-is-still-president days. It all calls for ice cream. I like the (mostly) good stuff — mint chocolate chip with green food coloring — but when the need arises, I'll take what I can get, including those vending machine Dippin' Dots that are the devil's way of reminding you he's real.

But these Pay-It-Forward ice cream boards — that's Little Baby's way of saying, Not today, Satan! And no, that's not just the mounds of ice cream talking.

The boards have been part of the ice cream company since it opened its first store in 2012, but cofounder Pete Angevine never anticipated how quickly people would fall in love with the concept and how creative they'd get. Plenty of people identify someone they want to gift with ice cream, but others choose to give it to "the next person with purple hair," "the next veteran," or "the next person named Tony." You can imagine how quickly that one gets claimed in Philly.

Ice cream lovers have been so charmed by the concept that there have even been a couple of marriage proposals that worked the board into the big ask, including one just a couple of weeks ago.

Ramon Guzman Jr. recently proposed to Taylor Witter at Little Baby’s Ice Cream on Frankford Avenue.
Ramon Guzman Jr.
Ramon Guzman Jr. recently proposed to Taylor Witter at Little Baby’s Ice Cream on Frankford Avenue.

When Ramon Guzman Jr., 23, a finance assistant for Gov. Wolf's reelection campaign, decided he wanted to propose to Taylor Witter, 24, a medical office coordinator at Abington-Jefferson Health, he knew he wanted to do it where they had their first date and where they made their courtship official.

Back then, he recalled, that while his heart was thinking, "Will you be my girlfriend?" his mouth was asking, "What's your favorite flavor?"

"I was nervous," the ice cream lover said.

He staked out a couple of locations — the nostalgic Catharine Street shop, where they had their first date, and the larger Frankford Avenue location.  He picked Frankford and asked the store to put up "What's your favorite flavor" on the board — a nod to the couple's inside joke so that she'd realize the message was for her. Guzman got on one knee and popped the question, and when Witter said yes, they celebrated with two cups of ice cream.

With "I asked," written on one cup and "I said yes," written on the other.

Friends and family who'd gathered for the celebration were treated to ice cream. But what they didn't know is that Guzman had paid it forward at the Catharine Street location, too. A free scoop for someone on their first date.

Of which, scooper Gavin Perez-Canto, told me there are always plenty. Easiest way to spot them is by asking a simple "Are these together or separate," and watch how an innocuous question becomes a referendum on the future of the relationship.

But his favorite pay-it-forwards are for the kids in the neighborhood. The kids get two samples a day, but there is always one who returns for extra, thinking he or she won't be recognized.

I had already planned on paying it forward, but after hearing that story, I knew whom I wanted the free ice cream to go to.

Cheers, hustler. Go get your scoop.

After learning about Little Baby’s Ice Cream Pay-It-Forward board, I visited a few locations to have some ice cream and pay it forward.
Helen Ubiñas
After learning about Little Baby’s Ice Cream Pay-It-Forward board, I visited a few locations to have some ice cream and pay it forward.